Tuesday, October 9, 2018
Young, who has been called the greatest practical sociologist of the past century, pioneered the modern scientific exploration of the social lives of the English working class. He didn’t just aim to study class, though; he aimed to ameliorate the damage he believed it could do. The Dartington ideal was about the cultivation of personality and aptitudes whatever form they took, and the British class structure plainly impeded this ideal. What would supplant the old, caste-like system of social hierarchy? For many today, the answer is “meritocracy”—a term that Young himself coined sixty years ago. Meritocracy represents a vision in which power and privilege would be allocated by individual merit, not by social origins.